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Stop, Drop & Test

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It’s surreal but it happens.  The lack of logic is sometimes laughable.  I’m talking about the thoughts that go through your brain when you go low. 

I was sitting with my children playing a game of Exploding Kittens.  (It’s a card game my son got for his birthday).  The game is nonsensical but we were having fun and joking around which is the best part of getting them all to sit in one space without devices for any length of time.  Just as we were about to finish my Dexcom vibrated.

“Strange it usually beeps.”  I hit the button:  70 .  “That can’t be right.  I’ll get up and check that.”

[Inward groan from all who know better]

Dexcom alarms again.  Oh right.  Forgot to go test.  Hit the button:  49 .  What?!?

Stop, Drop and Test.

Meter:  37.  Uh….

I ask my son to hand me a marshmallow.  I down it.  He then leaves the room.  My daughters have already scattered to the basement which is almost sound proof.  I’m not too concerned.

Dexcom alarms again:  Urgent LOW! 42 .  Guess I need a bit more sugar.

And then…I decide to make a S’More (no chocolate) because “that always shoots me up quickly.”  I get out a marshmallow and place it on a graham cracker, put it in the microwave (no plate) and hit the quick minute button and walk away.  Husband calls.  Microwave beeps.  Inward groan.  “I hit one minute instead of 10 seconds.”  Ugh.  The marshmallow is a big sticky blob in the center of the glass insert.

Meanwhile my husband is talking, “I’m on my way home, blah, blah, blah.  Can you blah, blah, blah?”  I’m not really understanding what the heck he’s saying.  I juggle the phone while trying to wash the microwave insert in the sink and mumble through a mouthful of more marshmallow that, “I’m lom, givme a minut.”

He can’t seem to understand what I’m saying or doing but has somehow understood the word low.  He tells me, “I’m going to hang up now and call C (daughter in the basement).”

Why is he talking so slow and loud? I insist that I’m fine.  He hangs up anyway.

Then my legs begin to feel like jelly.  Hmm.  Maybe I’d better sit down.  Daughter C comes upstairs in a panic yelling at her brother for not taking care of me and makes me sit on the couch.    I’m  now clutching a paper plate with a second S’more.  I pick at the marshmallow.  I should really wait 15.  Don’t want to over correct.  I had already had two marshmallows and they were the huge ones.

Brother doesn’t understand why she’s yelling, he handed me a marshmallow and I didn’t seem too concerned.  I try to referee their argument.  Daughter C tells me I’m sweaty and acting strange.  Everything is sort of disjunct in a third-person sort of way.

I check Dexcom:  59 .

Daughter L stays in basement completely unaware of the little drama unfolding above.

Husband is knocking on the glass door in the back yard.  I get up and unlock the door. The kids continue to argue.

“Why are you at the back door?”

“I thought it would be quicker to get inside.  Sit down.”

“I’m ok.”

Daughter C, “No she’s not.  She’s acting strange.”

Dexcom finally a happy:  70 .

I remember laughing at something while on the phone with my husband but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.  Honestly it wasn’t until my legs felt like they were turning into jelly that I realized I “felt” low.  In retrospect my forgetfulness, the urge to bust out laughing, and the detached calm were all symptoms of a low.  Just symptoms that were new to me.  This low came on pretty quickly as well.  I definitely need to tweak the ratios for my correction bolus because it seems like I have been getting more lows after a correction.

My children admonished me.  I should have told them I was low. “And where is the glucagon kit Mom?”  Good point.  At least I had already had them practice injecting glucagon into a couple of oranges using my expired kits.  Writing out an emergency plan and discussing it with them is definitely moving to the top of my to do list.

Until this point, I have not had to worry too much about out-of-the-blue lows.  I also haven’t had to engage my family in my care as much.  Times change.

AND, from this day forward when my Dexcom alarms I will:

Stop to check my Dexcom.

Drop what I’m doing.

Test my blood sugar.

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D-Blog Week 2017; Friday – Let It Grow/Blessed Beyond Measure

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DBW2017.gifMore Than Diabetes – Friday 5/19
Lets wrap up the week by sharing a little more about ourselves, beyond the chronic illness we or our loved ones live with.  Share an interest, hobby, passion, something that is YOU.  If you want to explore how it relates to or helps with diabetes you can.   Or let it be a part of you that is completely separate from diabetes, because there is more to life than just diabetes!  (This topic is a suggestion from the 2016 #DBlogWeek survey.)

 

I’m a somewhat private person.  Especially when it comes to online activities.  I started by commenting on posts but it felt really awkward at first.

This blog week is the 3rd one I’ve participated in.  I started this blog on Day 1, Diabetes Blog Week 2015.

At present my chief occupation is chauffeur.  I get paid in smiles, hugs, eye-rolls and attitude ;).  I have three children spread out which seemed really smart when they were little.  Now it can be challenging trying to juggle schedules, emotions, puberty, young adulthood, etc.  They are 20, 15 ½ and 12.  I have to add, with all bias intended, that they are really amazing individuals.  So is their father!  He is the love of my life.


I love to plant flowers and grow herbs.  There’s nothing like cooking with fresh ingredients.  I have never had much success with tomatoes.  Perhaps because I’m not overly fond of them.  My husband is though.  This year I’ll probably just frequent the local farmer’s markets to supply his tomato sandwich fixes.  It will mean less time and expense.


I love hummingbirds.  I’m doing a happy dance right now because I just saw my first one of the season at the feeder outside of the window.


I like to create things.  I crochet and have dabbled with the basic stitch of knitting.  I’ve made a couple of baby quilts.  I like to draw when the compulsion/inspiration strikes.  I’ve painted a few small paintings.  I can’t seem to finish the big one I started because I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to color mixing.

I like to read.  Some of my favorite characters include; Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Natty Bumpo, Bilbo Baggins…really, too many to name.  I’ve read quite a few series in the young adult category — previewing because I like to know what my children are reading.  We’ve read the Hobbit aloud to the children at least twice.

Music is a big part of my world.  My husband is a professional musician and we met in college. Instruments I have played include: flute, piccolo, mellophone, french horn, trumpet, piano, glockenspiel, and guitar.  I am a soprano.

I have to say some of my favorite music has been the voices of my children.  My son used to sing himself to sleep at night when he was a little tyke.  My heart still smiles thinking about those times.  I affectionately call my 15 ½ year old my “Baby Radio” as she is constantly in full voice around the house.  They can all be rather loud at times but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It is a full and wonderful life.  I am blessed beyond measure.  And I am grateful to have found the DOC for support and encouragement.  Thank you.

p.s.  I can’t post the personal without including a photo of my furry daughter; walking buddy and therapy dog extraordinaire.  Aussie Love to all!

 

 

D-Blog Week 2017; Thursday – The Kindess of a Stranger

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DBW2017.gifThrowback Thursday: What Brings Me Down – Thursday 5/18
Today let’s revist a prompt from 2014 – May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks again to Scott for this 2014 topic.)

 

It seems this week has been the week of de-railed plans.  Then there’s the complete lack of focus even as I walk from room to room.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed and erased sentences just for today’s post.  It happens.  That’s all I can say.

Day before yesterday I had to drive my husband to work at the last minute.  That meant I was engaged to pick him up after his workday ended.  After I picked him up we were driving through another neighborhood and our car made a strange beeping noise.  He was on his phone for a work related call at the time.  We pulled to the side of the road and discovered our tire was completely, on-the-rim flat.  I remembered we had roadside assistance through our insurance so I called them while he completed his work call.  The insurance company sent a tow truck to take us to the nearest tire store but only one person could ride in the truck with the driver.  I decided to stay in the neighborhood and walk around until he could pick me up.  It was a beautiful day and such a lovely neighborhood.  Enter diabetes into the story.

About 20 minutes into my sauntering and gazing at all the pretty flowers and greenery my Dexicom starts to alarm.  Luckily I had my purse and my latest favorite hypo fix – ginger chews.  The problem is, I still had at least 30 more minutes of wandering time.  I had started chatting with a lady who was walking her dog.  In the middle of our chat, my husband called me to let me know how much longer it would be.  Overhearing the conversation she very kindly offered to take me to my husband.  It was only a couple of miles away but further than I felt up to walking at the moment.  I was probably ok to find a place to sit and wait it out.  But all things considered, I took the ride.

It is often a hard thing to accept or ask for help.  But Diabetes has a way of humbling a person; exposing all our frailities; bringing us down.  And that which brings us down, ultimately lifts us more than we thought possible.  I was touched by the kindness of a stranger.  I will not forget.  I will extend that same kindness when and where I find the opportunity.

D-Blog Week 2017; Wednesday

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DBW2017.gifThe Blame Game – Wednesday 5/17
Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another.  And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault.  Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger.  Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had.  Now, the game part.  Let’s turn this around.  If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself?   Let’s help teach peoiupe how to support us, rather than blame us!  (Thank you, Brian, for inspiring this topic.)

 

I’m sure I’ll meet them; the random strangers who judge and condemn.  It’s just that I don’t let those kinds of people get to me as easily as I once would have.  I suppose that’s a silver lining about getting diabetes later in life.  I’m much less concerned about what other people think.  I figure it’s their problem to figure out.  I have enough on my plate.

That’s not to say that I’ve never had the odd comment bother me.  I went to the eye doctor for my annual dilated eye exam.  She looked at the most recent A1c in my record, scowled and said something to the effect of “you need to get that under control.”  I just remained stoic and didn’t answer.  My endocrinologist was OK with it.  She helped me to tweak my settings on my pump.  She thought my numbers were acceptable.  So I just shrugged off the optometrist’s remarks to her youth (turns out I was wrong about that, she was ten years older than I thought – suppose we all judge and condemn from time to time).

The point is: we all go by what experience has taught us.  We take what we are taught and what we have seen first hand and form opinions as we try to interpret our day-to-day experiences.  Unfortunately, in the case of diabetes education, there has been far too much misinformation taught from the medical institutions down.  The advertising using diabetes to sell sugary products, is just as much to blame.  One of the most obnoxious advertisements I heard was on the radio in the car one year before Easter.  A local chocolate company thought it would be cute to tout their chocolate bunny as worth getting diabetes while playing a heart monitor slowing and flatlining in the background.  To me that went beyond the need to educate; it was wrong on so many levels.  I’m not sure how to play the “game change” with that advertisement.

So I’ll just leave it at that.  I look forward to reading everyone’s  Blame Game Change posts.  I have a feeling, the way my week is going, that I will still be catching up next week.

D-Blog Week 2017; Tuesday – The Elephant in the Room

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DBW2017.gifThe Cost of a Chronic Illness – Tuesday 5/16
Insulin and other diabetes medications and supplies can be costly.  Here in the US, insurance status and age (as in Medicare eligibility) can impact both the cost and coverage.  So today, let’s discuss how cost impacts our diabetes care.  Do you have advice to share?  For those outside the US, is cost a concern?  Are there other factors such as accessibility or education that cause barriers to your diabetes care?  (This topic was inspired by suggestions from Rickand Jen.)

 

I am fortunate.  My insurance covers my diabetes needs at present.  I was also fortunate in that my T1D didn’t manifest until adulthood when I had good insurance.  We always reflect this time of the year on all that our mothers do for us.  Every time I contemplate the “what if” I am grateful that my diabetes didn’t add that burden of care onto my mother’s shoulders.  Today is the first time, however, that I’ve really considered the finiacial  burden that would have placed on her as well.

I wish I had some great insight to find solutions to this issue.  It seems every time I think about the high costs of the insulin and diabetes supplies I think of the rising costs of healthcare as a whole.  But how do you eat that proverbial elephant?  Which bite do you take first?

As usual, for answers I will turn to the DOC and read today’s posts on this subject.  Please join me.

 

D-Blog Week 2017; Monday – Expecting the Unexpected

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DBW2017.gif

“Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens?  Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?”

 

Expecting the unexpected is probably the perfect way to describe diabetes.  You can kind of relate it to the movie “Speed.”  You’re driving on a freeway with no option of slowing down and you must deal with whatever is in front of you at the time.  Occasionally you will see the gap in the highway and you step on the gas hoping that you will hit the pavement on the other side (think low blood sugars).  Often you find yourself wishing you had missed the bus to begin with but wishing doesn’t change the fact that if you slow down you will explode (think awful complications that come from years of high blood sugars).

So how do you prepare for something that often finds you on the wrong bus headed for a gap in the highway?  I suppose the first step you’ve already taken.  Read, read, read.  Educate yourself on how to formulate a plan and a back-up plan and a back-up to the back-up plan.  For instance, after reading this post at ASweetLife about how the changes in altitude can cause unexpected lows, I was not taken by suprise when this happened to me.

Really the best you can hope for is to take some of the anxiety out of dealing with the unexpected by educating yourself on the possibilities.  Welcome to the DOC (Diabetic Online Community); this is the perfect place to start.

#DBlogWeek

To read more from the DOC regarding today’s topic, go here!

Ode to Those Little Strips

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“Oh little strips, How quaint you sit

Nestled in my bathroom cupboard

More often than not, Expiring each lot

While sweet health propels me forward

Keytones be gone, While I carry on

Stay far from this house forever

And come what may, Little strips please remain

Replaced and ready for a day that’s hopefully…NEVER”

-Carmygee, Sweetness and Light; A Collection of Diabetes Poems


Just a little light-hearted humor to begin…thanks to Kelly from Below Seven for this post on Keytones for the inspiration this morning.

Actually, I did not intend to write poetry for this post at all.  I too had my first experience recently with keytones.  There was a quick hitting, violent stomach virus that went around the community.  It started in my family in a rather dramatic fashion involving me trying to hold my son’s, well let’s say, projection in my hands while dashing out of a music store (think coat sleeves full of unpleasantness).  When we made it home, we both had to change clothes and shower.  Poor little guy.

I felt fine and bleached everything in sight for 2 ½ days but to no avail.  My oldest daughter started feeling ill that night and every time I looked at her I would feel very ill too.  I thought it was just a mother’s sympathy until it became all to obvious that I was not well.

The worst part was trying to chew and hold down glucose tablets to replace the lost dinner carbohydrates I had already bolused for.  True to good old Murphy, I didn’t have any juice in the house.  So glucose tablets and water it was.  My son was feeling better by this point and came to check on me when I was getting sick.  He got more than a little worried when he saw the result of the raspberry (think bright red) glucose tablets that were not staying down.  I was trying to reassure him but couldn’t talk to well.  Luckily my other daughter had not yet gotten sick and could reassure him for me.  Her turn didn’t hit until 5am next morning.

During the course of all of this I started checking my keytones.  I had developed light keytones before bed.  I woke with high keytones.  Luckily I was able to hold down fluids at that point and, in a couple of hours, keytones returned to normal as I re-hydrated.

My husband had been traveling and was due to come in that day.   I warned my husband to stay in a hotel for a few days but he graciously came home and took great care of us.  I am sorry to report that despite his even greater precautions,  three days later he got ill.

Happily, we are all well at the moment.

During the course of this illness, the “what-if’s” were on hyper drive in my mind.  My neighbors were out-of-town.  None of my children are licensed drivers. The one who has her learner’s permit wasn’t in any condition to attempt driving…

I am grateful that I did not have to figure out a ride to the urgent care or ER for DKA.  Additionally, I formulated a few takeaway’s from my first keytone experience:

  • always have some form of liquid sugar on hand
  • advise your family of sick day protocol to prevent unduly alarming them (still working on this one)
  • write out a plan and a back up plan
  • when all is said and done – you’ve done what you can

With each lesson learned I suppose I’ve become more philosophical.  Life is tenuous enough, why expend your energy on “what-ifs”?  Sure there are times when worries are valid and shouldn’t be ignored.  T1D definitely has its’ way of reminding you of that.  But for all of the moments in-between; Que será, será!  There’s always Those Little Strips.